Bargain Hunter: Puno


This blog entry about the events of Friday, January 02, 2004 was originally posted on January 05, 2004.

DAY 76: Dave the Australian was up and out of our room by 7:15 in the morning, less than four hours since we checked in, for his day tour of Lake Titicaca.  He left me a ten soles note on my bedside, and with the exchange rate, I felt like a Two Dollar and Eighty Six Cents Peruvian Whore.

I slept in for a bit and then did some writing.  There was a knock on the door and it was Julio, the guy from the bus terminal that led us to the hostel in the wee hours of the morning that sold Dave his tour.  He wanted to know if I was interested in a tour as well, so I signed up for a two-day tour of Lake Titicaca, which included all but one meal and a stay with a family on one of the islands. 

“[It’s normally fifty five, but I’ll give it to you for fifty,]” he said.  Before I could answer, he continued, “[Are you a student?]”


“[Forty five then.]” 

That boiled down to about $12.86 (USD), which was quite a bargain, considering it included all transfers to and from the port as well. 

I HAD BEEN SUGGESTED from many travelers on my journey to avoid Puno and stay in the Bolivian Lake Titicaca town of Copacabana instead, but only Puno was the base to the famous floating islands of Lake Titicaca that I wanted to see.  Lonely Planet suggested that Puno might be a bit too chaotic and claustrophobic — possibly influencing the opinions of the other travelers — but mentioned its lively pedestrian mall and “good choice[s] of places to stay and eat.”

After uploading Days 73-75, I went out for a stroll on the streets of Puno to see for myself.  At over 12,500 feet above sea level, my breaths were short and my heart rate fast, especially when I went up to the Arco Deustua atop a hill, in hopes of a good view.  Like almost every other town I had been in Peru, Puno had a Plaza das Armas with a cathedral on one of the sides, but the distinct characteristic of this one was its funky landscaping job.  Many of the shrubs were trimmed in round, cartoony ways, like Edward Scissorhands meets Pokemon, and not just in the main plaza — I found them in front of a hospital, at a rotunda at the Avenida Sol and in the busy Parq Pino (picture above) as well. 

Instead of going via the many available bicycle rickshaws, I strolled around town on foot.  Despite everyone’s warnings, I found Puno to be quite pleasant — I’d had worse.  I walked to the harbor on the lake, passed the many stands that sold candy and sodas such as Inca Kola, the Peruvian bubble gum-tasting soft drink that was the only soda in any country that had outsold Coca-Cola.  (Coca-Cola eventually bought out Inca Kola, but kept its brand.) 

One of the main reasons travelers told me to go to Copacabana instead of Puno was that Copacabana is more catered to backpackers.  While those conveniences are nice, I sometimes just like being in a “real” city where life just goes on — even though Puno’s proximity to Lake Titicaca made it somewhat touristy.  I decided to avoid the touristic things of Puno and made like a local — I went shopping for bargains through the local Saturday markets that pretty much took up every major street in town except for the touristic pedestrian mall.  I wasn’t looking for souvenirs — I have no room in my bag — just supplies that I needed from either being lost or stolen.  With the exchange rate, the local market was quite a bargain:

Three new padlocks in various sizes:  $1.28 (USD) (total)
Secondhand raincoat, stronger than the one I lost:  $2.50
Bootleg VCD movies of current films:  $0.71 each
Plastic feedbag of fried chicken, noodles and rice:  $0.28
Fresh mangoes to wash out greasy taste of feedbag:  $0.43 per kilo
Watching a performance of little kids performing Andean tunes:  Priceless.  (I didn’t have any small coins to tip them with.)

I spent all afternoon at the markets looking for the bargains — it took me forever to find a good raincoat, and I almost gave up on it — and head back to my hostel on the outskirts of Touristville.  Inside an internet cafe to do some more work, I missed out on a parade out on the streets — as well as a storm that had come in.  It was good that I bought that raincoat after all.

After being amidst the locals all day, I decided to veg in my room as an American again — by watching American Pie: La Boda (American Wedding) on my iBook (never saw it before) with a big bag of Doritos and a Coke.  The movie crapped out five minutes before the ending, but at 71 cents, I suppose I got what I paid for.

Next entry: School Days On The Titty Side

Previous entry: My First Stolen Item

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Comments for “Bargain Hunter: Puno”

  • so who’s the Inca Kola spokesmodel?

    plastic in a bag sure does look yummy!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  10:49 PM

  • first and second grin aren’t u slackers still at work?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  10:49 PM

  • I guess I’m third then! 

    Whew!  All caught up finally!!  Happy Belated New Year Erik!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  11:04 PM

  • RISA:  Happy New Year too!  Glad you liked “Decisions”...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  11:53 PM

  • ugh. no internet at work for the past 2 days. i missed so much stuff!

    -macworld january (new color ipods???)
    -Blogs Day 76, 77, and 778
    -‘Shock and Awe’ images from Mars!!!

    hopefully, our connection will be up tomm…if not, i can already see Alice bouncing off the walls.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  12:20 AM

  • my god! we have no internet connection at work and i am already 3 posts behind. i have to catch up now. but i love the shrubs. so cute! i am the knight that says nee, bring me some shrubbery.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  01:59 AM

  • I don’t know where I’ve been?! Awell there’s always day 79!

    Erik did you see the part where Stiffler’s mom appears out of nowhere and has a tantric bath with shit-break?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  03:58 AM

  • Inca Kola does taste like bubble gum.  I had it at a peruvian resturant in Passaic.  Erik, you gotta try Papa a la Huancaina, it’s an appetizer - potatoes, eggs, & some yellow sauce.  SOOO Good, I’m craving it now.  mmm

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  10:36 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
School Days On The Titty Side

Previous entry:
My First Stolen Item


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